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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Rugby League – smashed or just wobbly?

The National Rugby League has suspended Brett Stewart from playing for four weeks.

Stewart is the super star who got totally shit faced at his club’s season opening celebrations. Later in the evening he allegedly sexually assaulted a 17 year old girl. He has now been charged with that offence.

The NRL banned him for getting pissed and bringing the game into disrepute. 

So let me get this right.  If Stewart had been sober, according to the NRL’s logic, he’d be playing this weekend for Manly, even though he has been charged with sexual assault.

And if it’s good enough to suspend Stewart for being drunk at the club’s function, what about fellow Manly player Anthony Watmough?

He was also drinking and had an altercation with one of the club’s sponsors over that sponsor’s daughter, who just happens to be a model. Why didn’t the NRL also suspend Watmough for bringing the game into disrepute?

Last year Anthony Laffranchi not only played for his club, he played for Australia when he was facing sexual assault charges. He was found not guilty.

Cronulla sacked Greg Bird and he is now playing in France. He will face court soon on charges of glassing his girlfriend and other offences. 

Police investigated a number of Bulldogs players a few seasons ago for a possible sexual assault. They did the same when 3 Brisbane Broncos players had sex with a woman in a pub toilet.

A Canberra Raiders player is  in their squad (but has not been selected in the first game) despite being charged with assaulting his girlfriend.

Players for one of the feeder clubs for Wests Tigers are under investigation for possible sexual assault.

That’s  a pretty poor record, but one which reflects what goes on in all sections of our society.


So what happens in other workplaces when an employee is charged with a serious offence?

Often the person will be suspended on full pay, or in some cases without pay. Certainly most employment contracts have some sort of standards clause in them and this can be enforced against employees (players) facing serious criminal charges.

For the life of me I can’t see why the NRL doesn’t adopt a simple rule – serious criminal charges mean a player is suspended on full pay until the matter is finalised. 

The player is still assumed to be innocent – suspension carries no implication about that. 

He receives his income so suffers no financial loss while the matter is being investigated and pursued. Of course the club loses his services for that period but surely that is as it should be.

That way they keep fans, sponsors and society happy (sort of.) We’d be a lot happier if violence against women didn’t exist.

For a number of years Catharine Lumby, the Rape Crisis centre and others have been educating the boys of the NRL about respect for women.

Professor Lumby is the director of the journalism and media research centre at the University of New South Wales.  She is on the education and welfare committee of the National Rugby League.

Here is part of what she said in the Sydney Morning Herald on 9 March in her article It’s too easy to put all the blame on football:

As someone who has worked on education programs for league players about their off-field behaviour I have to admit I feel like punching a wall every time the front pages light up with fresh allegations.

We can all share her frustration. But what to do about the behaviour of some men towards women?

Lumby goes on to say, referring to the work of Karen Willis, from Rape Crisis NSW and Professor Moira Carmody at the University of Western Sydney: 

Their work points to one overwhelming conclusion: stopping violence against women means recognising that it happens across social classes and realising that we have to start young if we want to change the attitudes and behaviours that give men excuses to abuse women and children.

With all due respect, this may be myth of Sisyphus stuff.

The task is not just education, or changing the culture of the NRL and indeed of society as it currently exists.

The problem goes much deeper. Sexism and the devaluation of women are systemic to our class society.

To state the obvious, rugby league is male dominated.  I think the essence of the game – man against man physically – in and of itself devalues women and their place in society. 

Marry this with the underlying social attitudes of many – the role of women is subservient to men – and couple that with the adulation, money and power that young, mainly working class men receive, and you magnify the misogynist and oppressive tendencies in society in the crucible of Rugby League.

Women’s oppression is borne of the need of capital to reproduce the next generation of workers and have that paid for out of wages and the unpaid labour of mainly women workers, not out of profits. 

This means to my mind as long as the profit system exists it will create an ideology of woman as child bearer and all the social consequences that attach to that stereotype.

No amount of education is going to change that. A combative working class, forcing Labor to pay equal wages for equal work and to implement a real paid maternity scheme, would raise the status of women in society.

That won’t happen tomorrow.  But at some stage there will be an upsurge of working class activity and the liberation of women can then come back on the agenda.

Let’s all work now to stop violence against women.  But let’s also work for a future society in which all human beings are treated with respect and they are valued for their intrinsic worth.


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